Because the future is coming at us more and more quickly, “the future” is the theme of this year’s Public Employers Conference hosted by the Employers Council. To meet the challenges the future will bring, human resources staff must not only think in new ways, but they must create solutions that were not required in the past. This spans many areas. Of course, the legal landscape is always changing, and learning the latest legal and legislative changes, agency enforcement initiatives, employment law trends, and court decisions affecting public sector employers is always useful.
Change management has been a buzz phrase for years, but the typical change management presentation is not enough to rethink the change and leadership that must occur in the public sector. Modern public sector leaders require a new way of thinking to thrive in a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This is due in part to real changes in our communities. There are different types of economic and other challenges facing public employers, and as a result, public employers must adapt. These challenges can be unique. Both community concerns and the political climate can create controversy that may not be experienced in the private sector. In addition, having funding based on taxes provides challenges with consequences that are difficult to anticipate. Understanding how broader themes in the community you serve can affect your employees is imperative.
Due to rapidly changing technology, digital transformation is now on the minds of employers. While there is a lot of buzz, each employer can decide how it changes the workplace, and how to prepare for this emerging phenomenon. Cybersecurity is another area in technology where law enforcement have made great leaps in understanding and implementation. Human resources must view this from a different vantage point. How do you assess your baseline security posture, identify security vulnerabilities, put in place protection measures, and anticipate the cost to set up a holistic approach to cybersecurity?
Gender issues continue to emerge and change how we react within the workplace. Consider the concepts of gender fluidity, transition communication, accommodation, and the use of appropriate pronouns. These concepts are now something all employees should be conversant with in the workplace. Another emerging hot topic for public employers is pay equity. Of course, first we must define pay equity, and then understand how pay equity is regulated at the federal level, and the different state approaches that are emerging. Certainly, there is unique legislation on the table for Colorado and in some other states. It is important to understand common employer defenses of pay disparities, and in particular, look at how the EEOC evaluates each of these defenses. There is a degree of formality and documentation necessary for a particular pay practice to be legally defensible and stand up to scrutiny in a discrimination complaint. Employers can take proactive steps to assess their own liability and address any legal vulnerabilities before the laws change or become more visible and a discrimination charge is filed. If you design a pay equity analysis, you must know how to interpret and use the results.
Attendance at our Public Employers Conference is likely to provide guidance in all of these areas that will be challenging the public sector. You can register online at www.employerscouncil.org, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (303) 223-5491.